Posts from — August 2010

Monday Matters! – Workplace Emergency Preparedness: Complex Terrain Challenges

Whether you work in a small business located in a local industrial park, a corporate campus complex or in a high rise office building spanning multiple floors, there are distinct challenges when planning for emergencies and responding to disasters. Business workplaces by and large can be considered complex terrain. The use of the term “complex terrain” in the context of emergency preparedness and disaster response goes far beyond the physical aspects of the business location and includes the impact of the disaster on the organization. In a very real sense it includes, but is not entirely limited to:

  1. Preservation and sustainment of life
  2. Continuity of business operations
  3. Security of corporate assets
  4. Safeguarding and mirroring data
  5. Critical infrastructure protection
  6. Key personnel assignment and utilization
  7. Vendor, supplier and contractor logistics
  8. Employee separation from their families and homes
  9. Victimization of the workforce by the disaster
  10. Finances and availability of cash
  11. Viable communications
  12. Recovery from the disaster

Which area is priority #1 for you in your workplace? We believe this answer is pretty much governed by your perspective, level of engagement with the private or public sector organization, and one’s level of leadership responsibility or ownership position.

The resiliency of an organization adversely impacted by disaster can be measured by how its “human capital” or people endure and recover. This factor can in most instances be directly tied to the “bottom line”.  Recently we became acquainted with Personal Recovery Concepts and its President and CEO Ann Coss who specializes in organizational resiliency.  Ms. Coss was gracious enough to provide us with permission to share a recently published white paper that puts a very strong light on the “people” component of organizational resiliency. You’ll find this paper to be an informative read: The Impact of People Continuity on Organizational Resilience.

As we reflect on the 5th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina and its devastation of the Gulf Coast region of the United States, we can only hope our nation’s private sector has learned how to better prepare, and more importantly how to implement an effective recovery process from a catastrophic disaster. ICE PACK researchers recently located the document LESSONS LEARNED FROM HURRICANE KATRINA: Preparing Your Institution for a Catastrophic Event” prepared by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council”.

On the tragic day of September 11, 2001 our company had employees on air travel throughout the country. When the terrorist attack was realized, every airliner traveling in US airspace was immediately grounded and some even re-routed to Canada. Far from their intended destinations and strewn literally across the US and Canada, we were suddenly faced with a number of employee’s with no means to either return home, or get to their destination. We then had an obligation to insure that our employee’s were safe, availed to food and lodging, could establish communication with their families, and arrange alternate transportation when and where possible.  For our company this was an emergency situation, for thousands others far less fortunate and especially those that lost their lives, it was a catastrophic disaster. May God bless the souls of the 9/11 victims and comfort their families.

Private sector organizations should consider resiliency as an integral part of their overall business plan. Whether faced with an emergency or catastrophic disaster, being prepared may well be the difference between enduring the event, and never re-opening the business.

Prayers and condolences are extended to the families of those Gulf Coast residents who lost their lives during Hurricane Katrina and to the families of those who perished on September 11, 2001, at Ground Zero, the Pentagon and at the Pennsylvania plane crash site.


August 30, 2010   1 Comment

Monday Matters – Mobile Vehicle Emergencies

Inspiration for this blog post was found within our own company. We constantly have staff members on the road throughout the United States and abroad. We travel in many major urban centers and in just as many out of the way locations on roads that sometimes tend to be highly questionable. With a high degree of regularity someone from our staff encounters an emergency on the road. Whether you car pool, commute or drive to and from work, take a road trip, or just spend a lot of time in your car, you are highly susceptible to encountering some type of mobile vehicle emergency.

Personal and family security are important while traveling on the road. While many vehicle emergencies are directly tied to extreme weather, simple or maybe not so simple mechanical breakdowns occur as part of our everyday lives as vehicle owners. Being a member of a roadside assistance club like the AAA is a very good idea! We won’t dwell on the subject of keeping your vehicle in good working order, gas tank at least half full, checking tire pressure, fluids, etc. That we’ll leave to Murphy’s Law first cousin “Capitan Obvio” (translation; very obvious). Since a great deal of our time is spent in vehicles, the probability of encountering a dangerous condition or having a vehicle emergency increases every time we take to the road. With this being said, you need to be as prepared in your vehicle as you are at home and in the office.

Lessons Learned

During this past winters devastating mid-Atlantic snow storms we had several key personnel stranded on a major interstate highway for nearly 24 hours in separate vehicles! Water, weather appropriate clothing, footwear, and gasoline were the most critical factors in that winter weather ordeal. Kudos go out to the dedicated volunteer fire rescue teams on ATV’s that brought much needed supplies and rescue to hundreds of motorists who found themselves in a bad situation so very close to home in Virginia on snow covered highways. Embrace the reality that at some point, if you have not already had a similar situation happen to you, you will…

This flip side to our staff’s’ long awaited interstate highway rescue brings to mind the tragic death in 2006 of James Kim the CNET Networks editor who became lost in the Oregon woods while driving to a lodge outside of Portland Oregon. Lost on back roads for a week, and despite a family pact made during their ordeal of “No getting wet. No getting hurt. No getting sick”, Mr. Kim died of hypothermia and exposure after hiking miles in ice, snow and water trying to get help for his family. There is a detailed compilation of this incident on the Wikipedia website ( with much to be learned. If you even think you’ll be venturing into the great outdoors be prepared, remembering that, Mother Nature tends to be most unforgiving and at times unmerciful. There are many resources available to become informed and trained in wilderness survival. Two excellent resources that we would recommend highly are Mr. Doug Ritter’s website Equipped to Survive and the Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School operated by former USAF SERE instructor Mr. Reggie Bennett.

Lessons learned from the Mad Matz Unique Jeepz crew that pull a 48’ fifth wheel trailer all around the country have shown us that in a number of breakdowns, that cellular and radio communications, multiple spare tires, additional fuel and emergency lighting have been essential. Pulling a trailer presents an even greater range of potential emergencies that one can encounter on the road and requires supplemental gear.

Even worse than being a stranded motorist, is your vehicle crashing off the roadway. Here you may be injured, immobilized and not visible to passersby. This is not an uncommon occurrence where rescue could take hours or days, depending on how lucky or prepared you are. Compound this situation with deep water or extreme weather conditions like fog, snow, or heavy rain and you have the makings for a far more disastrous result. In this situation fate may play a major role, however if you have any chance at all it will be based on your planning, preparation and desire to live.

Consider the following when making your plan for mobile vehicle emergencies.

  1. Good road maps, primary and alternate route planning and information sharing
  2. Weather conditions
  3. Weather appropriate clothing
  4. Security and safety measures
  5. Vehicle in good working order and well maintained
  6. A well provisioned vehicle emergency kit (e.g. food, water, and much more)
  7. First aid kit
  8. Vehicle related tools
  9. Spares (e.g. tire, fuses, coolant/anti-freeze, oil, etc.)
  10. Communications (e.g. cellular telephones, vehicle charger, back-up AA battery charger, citizens band radio, etc.)
  11. Communications technology (e.g. GPS navigation, personal locator beacons, computer wireless cards, etc.)
  12. Emergency lighting and signaling devices (e.g. road flares, distress flag, whistle, air horn, strobe beacon, flashlights and extra batteries)


August 23, 2010   2 Comments

Pamela J. Bergeret appointed to BOD for the Virginia Mountain Region & Central Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross

Ashbury International Group Exec. Vice President Pamela J. Bergeret

Our congratulations to Ashbury International Group, Inc. Exec. Vice President Pamela J. Bergeret for her appointment to the Board of Directors for the Virginia Mountain Region & Central Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross which serves 19 counties. Pamela joins a dedicated group of 22 board members lead by CEO Keila Murfin Rader. These consummate professionals are all dedicated to supporting and promoting the mission of the American Red Cross.

August 18, 2010   1 Comment